Saturday, 29 October 2011

A Prayer for Bangkok

The increasingly concerning picures coming out of Thailand over recent days have saddened me greatly.

Source: BBC News Website
Its capital Bangkok is on the cusp of succumbing to an awful flood which has already taken more than 370 lives. Heavy monsoon rains have been causing flooding in Thailand since July with flood waters continuing to creep into northern districts of Bangkok. The centre remains mostly dry for the time being. Officials however have warned that high tides due this weekend, combined with the flow of run-off water from inundated central plains, could cause wider flooding.

The city is surrounded by flooded plains and the situation could deteriorate badly over the coming days.

My Bangkok Experience
The reason why I take a particular interest and concern in this news story is because I have been to Bangkok myself before.

It was back in 2008 when I spent two days and nights in the Thai capital city on arriving in the country before moving on to Chiang Mai in the north. I've happily admitted that out of all of the different locations that I visited during that 2 week stay, Bangkok was not a favourite of mine. To me, it was too much of a modern Asian tourism hotspot. It quickly dawned on me as I visited Chiang Mai and Kanchanaburi that Bangkok was not representative of the Thai nation in the more traditionally cultural sense.

Neverthless, it was a fascinating experience. Driving around in a Tuk-Tuk through the polluted Bangkok air was an unforgettable experience and I was delighted to successfully complete my first transaction in bartering with a local trader for a traditional Thai umbrella outside the Grand Palace. Unfortunately, within a matter of hours I then went and left it at the Railway Station where we'd called in to book our sleeper-train tickets to Koh Samui for later in our holiday. Typical!

We stayed in two different hotels during the two nights. They weren't the Ritz but then they did the job quite adequately - as long as you had a working fan in your room to deal with the humidity, you'd be ok. During the first night, not long after checking-into the hotel from the airport, I recall walking around the city at midnight - it was a bustling live city which for this little westerner that had never experienced the culture of the Orient at first hand was an eye opening experience. The next morning, I took the photo on the right, looking down from our hotel room on high at flooded streets below.

This remember is the city centre and here you had flooded streets. The example here as dated was on January 30th 2008 - you can see quite clearly the sight of moving cars making their way through high levels of water.

So the sad sights being witnessed this week, though are clearly to the extreme of what I myself witnessed in 2008, seem to signify a trend of a kind.

I hope that catastrophe can be averted this weekend. Thailand is a beautiful country with a welcoming people. They do not deserve this.

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